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17 Jan 2018

Bill Curry, The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Trade Minister plans to confront CEOs over human-rights rules

...If the [CORE] watchdog is unable to obtain company records as part of an investigation, the government says it will be able to ask cabinet to approve an order in council compelling the company to hand over the files...The office will initially focus on the mining, oil and gas and garment sectors, with a plan to include other business sectors within a year…

…While the watchdog can only recommend sanctions, Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government would face public pressure to follow through on such advice...He also said the simple fact the watchdog can issue public reports will provide an incentive for companies to co-operate, given the increased focus on ethical investing...

...Barrick Gold Corp., the biggest gold company in the world by production, said it, too, supports the government's initiative.

 "We look forward to engaging with the ombudsperson in a transparent and constructive manner," the company wrote in a news release. "Accountability and respect for human rights are central to our values as a company, and are enshrined in robust policies and procedures that apply to all of our operations around the world."

The…company has significant mining operations in countries such as Peru, the Dominican Republic and Argentina. It has faced allegations of human-rights abuses at some operations, including sexual violence at a mine in Papua New Guinea about seven years ago…